Semester Two, 2013

News from the Exec Meeting on Monday:

  • Skepchicks Group: We will be starting a subgroup for women in RSS. There are not many women in RSS and we hope to increase the numbers, we will have women at the sign up stall, start a coffee group, and perhaps start a FB group. Watch this space for details.
  • Some talks in the Pipeline for next semester:
    Open Culture: Why it matters; why you should care.
    From Is to Ought.
    Reductionism in science.
    REAL debate.
    Islam 101: The history and the teachings.
    Feminism: The role of Men in Feminism; Skepchik and Elevatorgate; The ethical terrain of abortion arguments.
  • We will continue to have weekly meetings but also make some of these movie nights and social events rather than always having seminars/lectures.
  • Future dinners will need to cost more (or fundraising?) in order to cover costs of so much pizza!
  • Fundraising was considered but no firm plans have been made.
  • New Exec Positions:
    President: Kieran David Deane-Alder
    Secretary: Zachary Ardern
    Deputy Secretary: Jenny Zhi Cheng
    Treasurer: Simon Wegner
    Media Officer: Joshua Guilbert
    Anti-Harassment Officer: Talia Sellars

(Other bureaucratic things were discussed but they are not really relevant to general members)


Exec+ meeting for second semester 2013

Monday 24th June, 6pm, Shadows 

We will be having a meeting primarily for exec members on Monday 24th June at 6pm at the back of Shadows on campus. While this is an exec meeting if you would like to join the exec for second semester please come along to the meeting. We would also like to have more undergraduate students (to take over in future), more womenmore event organisers, and basically anyone who isn’t just more of the same (white male postgrads). 


An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design.

Bradley Monton.
An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design.
Talks to RSS.

Friday 29th March (Good Friday), 5:30pm
Biology Building BLT100

About the book: 
The doctrine of intelligent design is often the subject of acrimonious debate. Seeking God in Science cuts through the rhetoric that distorts the debates between religious and secular camps. Bradley Monton, a philosopher of science and an atheist, carefully considers the arguments for intelligent design and argues that intelligent design deserves serious consideration as a 
scientific theory. Monton also gives a lucid account of the debate surrounding the inclusion of intelligent design in public schools and presents reason why students’ science education could benefit from a careful consideration of the arguments for and against it.




UPDATE: Here is the audio and handouts from the seminar Dr Monton gave: 


What is wrong with Intelligent Design?

Tuesday 28th May, 6pm, Arts 1 room 315

One of our members will present a reply or follow on discussion from Bradley Monton’s earlier presentation.

“What is wrong with Intelligent Design” will explore the history of the movement to demonstrate that the reality of Intelligent Design is, what the biological arguments are and why it should not be included in the public (or even private) science education system below the Tertiary level.


The Universe from Nothing

Tuesday 21st May, 5:30pm, Arts 1 room 315

We watch a Lawrence Krauss talk/documentary

Physicist Lawrence Krauss considers that the information recoverable by any civilization over the entire history of our universe is finite in an ever-expanding universe.

The Man From Earth – film night

Tuesday 14th May

5:30pm Arts 1 Room 315

Social Event ~ RSS Goes for a Beer

Tuesday 7th May

5:30pm onwards

Shadows Tavern (on Campus)

 This week we’re having a social event rather than a seminar. Come for a beer at Shadows after classes. Or coke, or chips, or whatever. If you don’t drink, or don’t know anyone, please still feel welcome to come along anyway. This is a chance to meet others from the group and just socialise a bit rather than having to listen to a presentation and think of smart questions to ask!


Jeff Talon on Science versus Christianity

Sunday 5th May

10:15 am 

Shadows Tavern (on campus)

Hosted by Auckland Evangelical Church 

Doesn’t science disprove Christianity?

Either way, are you sure? Sure enough to bet your life on it?
At least give one of NZ’s top Physicists a chance to explain how he sees the two as inseparable.

Professor Jeff Tallon is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished physicists, internationally known for research which revolutionised the field of high temperature superconductors.
Current research interests extend to nanotechnology, high pressure physics, and materials science.
Jeff has received numerous awards for his work, including the inaugural Prime Minister’s science prize, the Rutherford medal and the Dan Walls medal for physics. He currently a visiting professor at the Cavendish laboratory, Cambridge University.

He has been a prominent advocate of science education and research in New Zealand and for the compatibility of science and Christian faith.

Here’s a video to watch:

Here’s some reading:

Logic, Critical Thinking, Reasoning Errors, and other stuff Skeptics should know.

One of our members presented on the difference between deductive, inductive and abductive reasoning and logic; On some of the logical, reasoning, and argument fallacies we often make; A little bit on how philosophy ties in with science, Inference to the best explanation, Philosophy of Science, and the logical forms of scientific methodology; As well as some general critical thinking skills that we should apply not only to evaluating other’s arguments, but also our own.

We hope to have an video of this (and other) talks processed and up here soon. In the mean time:

EDIT: Here it is! 

Craig Cormick on Why clever people can believe in dumb things

Auckland University of Technology had Craig Cormick talk to the public on Tuesday 9th April on:

Why clever people can believe in dumb things and how the internet is making us stupider.

Abstract:    Addressing societal concerns about contentious new technologies such as GM foods and crops, or issues such as global climate change, has become increasingly difficult with a growing tendency for people to only seek out information that supports their existing values and beliefs rather than challenging them. This enables fringe beliefs to thrive – such as more than half of New Zealanders believing some people have psychic powers, a third believing the earth has been visited by UFOs from other planets, and a quarter believing astrology can predict people’s futures. In this entertaining talk, Dr Craig Cormick looks at the social psychology of how we form our attitudes and then reinforce them, and what role the internet has in attitude formation in the 21st Century.

About the speaker:
Craig Cormick is an award-winning Canberra author and science communicator. He has published over 100 short stories, including eight short story collections, as well as novel and non-fiction, with both independent and mainstream publishers.
Currently employed at the CSIRO, Craig is a regular commentator on public attitudes towards emerging technologies in the media and at conferences in Australia and internationally. He has travelled to all seven continents and his research has been published widely in peer-reviewed journals and conference papers. In 2005 he authored the reports What you really need to know about what the public really thinks about GM foods (2005) and Cloning Goes to the Movies (2006).

A transcript/article of a similar presentation can be found here:

VIDEO:  Dr Craig Cormick in conversation with Dr Di Bowman about the social values that govern much public perception of risk, and how they affect the decisions people make.